tv MSNBC Live MSNBC February 27, 2013 8:00am-9:00am PST
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statue of civil rights pioneer rosa parks, the first of an african-american woman to stand in the capitol statuary hall. parks became an icon in 1955 after refusing to vacate her seat to a white passenger on a bus in montgomery, alabama. that act of defiance resulted in her arrest and a bus boycott led by a pastor named martin luther king. not far from the capital the supreme court is hearing arguments on a key provision on whether the 1965 voting acts law has outlived its productivity it is considered one of the most effective and powerful civil rights statutes in american history. in the high court bulls eye is section five which requires nine states with a history of discrimination to clear any proposed change in voting rules with the federal government. it also partially covers districts in seven other states. the act was reauthorized in 2006. democrats from the hill held a news conference late this morning on the steps of the court to call for section five
to be upheld. >> we still need section five and that is why we're here today standing up for the voting rights of all americans. we must never give up, never give in. >> the right to vote must be preserved. the right to vote must be protected. the right to vote must remain the cornerstone of our democracy. >> you will not win. you will not win this battle. this is not the first time. >> certainly a big morning when it comes to voting rights in america. joining me now is patricia anmalete an attorney who has argued more than two dozen cases before the supreme court and my two other guests. i want to start out by reminding everybody how jon lewis remembers what he went through as a young man when it came to getting the right to vote.
take a look. >> 17 of us went to the good samaritan hospital in downtown selma. just eight days later, president lyndon johnson introduced the voting rights act and later on august 6th, 1965 he signed that act into law. >> reverend barber, it is easy for people to embrace the emotion of what it means to have the right to vote and certainly what so many americans went through to get that. a lot of generations today may not appreciate what so many went through. but explain how you feel about the legitimacy of that law in 2013. >> thank you so much. if you see the diversity here as i stand here with the attorney, black and white together, when you look at the law you have to look at it through the continuum of history. in 1868, '72 we had a
premeditated attack on voting rights to try to roll them back. 1968 we had a premeditated attack to roll back voting rights. now what we see are premeditated attacks to roll back our voting rights. the only way you can pass stop voter i.d. laws, gerrymandering, redistricting, race based schemes, stop those who want to roll back things like same day registration and early voting you have to have the heart of the voting rights act which is preclearance. without that these premeditated attacks would go unchallenged. 5 million people were protected just last year because they could not preclear. they could not move past section 5. without section 5 there would be no protection against those who want to roll back our democracy and roll back fundamental rights. >> okay. as we look at this specifically, this section 5 issue before the supreme court, goldy, i want to show everybody that a lower court rules against shelby in which it says that overt racial
discrimination persists in covered jurisdictions. a "the washington post" editorial says protecting the right to vote is of such importance that congress should have the authority to use strong measures to protect it. how do you predict the arguments will go today? >> it is going to be tough because over the last 30 years we've looked at the record of supreme court justice roberts and his track record on this issue. he has been a person who has been against the voting rights act. he wrote several memos during the reagan administration to the justice department that, you know, flew in the face of the section 5 and other sections of the voting rights act in feeling it had youd lived its usefulness. we know its useful in evidence is right when we look at places like here in georgia. john lewis is the congressman here and we certainly honor the fight and stand he took for atlanta and around the south. that fight just isn't over. when you look at the new voting i.d. laws they're pressing in georgia and texas and trying to keep people of color, younger
people, even older people away from the polls. and those people who typically, most typically vote democratic. i think taking section 5 away, taking it away, takes away the most valuable portion because without it we can get these things through we certainly come a long way from literacy tests. i don't know if we've come as far as poll taxes taus baus that gets to the issue of paying for an identification card to get the vote. as goldy brings up, certainly interesting to watch. the justices here, she brought up chief justice roberts. i want to show everybody in 2009, he said things have changed in the south and may no longer be justified by current conditions. the other justice to watch is kennedy. as we said, you have argued two dozen cases before the court. what do you think about how the justices and this look at the two men, roberts and kennedy, are the most important today? >> well, i think i was inside the courtroom until just a few minutes ago and the questioning
from the chief justices was exactly as you have described and might have predicted very much probing this question whether there is any reason to continue to apply this to select states. he had a whole series of questions trying to show that massachusetts had the worse ratio of african-american to white voter turnout than some of the states in the south but the argument began with justices sotomayor, kagan, and breyer very aggressively showing alabama and shelby county in particular has had 242 laws blocked by this statute and as i said under any formula congress would enact you would be covered. it is that debate about whether the target is appropriately captured that is going on inside right now. >> as we look at the states, states calling for section 5 to be struck down i want to illustrate we're talking about alabama, alaska, arizona, georgia, south carolina, south dakota, and texas. reverend, explain, why is there
still a distinct difference when it comes to certain states of the south based on what the direct reference i guess what chief justice roberts was trying to make the state of massachusetts. >> you have to understand that was planned. if you go back to 1968 and the southern strategy the attempt was to build a solid south. what is happening now the changing demographics and the fruits of section 5 are beginning to come to fruition and we're seeing the solid south be broken and open up. because of that those who have a regressive mindset, who are afraid of a more hetrogeneous system, they want to stop this. they can't. we're kind of in the third reconstruction and seeing things happen in america some people never dreamed of or believed so you see all of these schemes out of state houses, voter i.d., gerrymandering, redistricting,
what we saw in north carolina, attempts to roll back same day registration and early voting at the very time voting is going up. so section 5 is just now beginning to bear major fruit. we should not undo a partial remedy after 200 some odd years of discrimination in the middle of it when it is going to show fruit and now you want to roll it back. that is the travesty that it is unamerican. shelby is our selma. alabama is america. this is all of our fights and it is undemocratic and we should not stand for it. it is not so long ago. we're only five months away or less than that from the election of 2012 and this is what the reverend al sharpton had to say reminding everybody what voters went through in certain areas. >> last year the voter i.d. laws and long lines and ending early voting and stopping sunday to the polls showed that jim crow's son james crow jr. esquire is
still trying to do what his daddy did and that's rob us from the right to vote. >> how much do you think the supreme court is taking into the digestion of the political cycle we just lived through? the examples we lived through, goldy, that then are implemented into the arguments, considerations being talked about today? >> i think reverend al sharpton is right. on the one side you have the very long lines. you have a limited number of voting machines in districts where they expect higher turn out. you have college students being blocked from the rolls because they didn't list their specific dorm room on their voter registration card. so we're a long way away from billy clubs, dogs, and water hoses. we're right up here with gerrymandering, putting causal impediments in place where people can't get to the polls. what we ought to be about is
expanding enfranchisement. >> thank you for joining me today. i appreciate your insights. coming up we have only two days, less than 24 or 48 hours until the sequester taking effect. and now we have the president. asking for face to face meetings with congressional leaders. it is the first time he's meeting with some on the right face to face. plus hagel at the helm after weeks of delay but no delay in getting to work today. he is on the job. our power panel is going to weigh in on that coming up. today's big question to you. do you think section 5 of the voting rights act has or has not outlived its legitimacy? tweet your answers to thomas a. roberts. find us on face boochblgt [ dog barking ] ♪ [ female announcer ] life is full of little tests, but bounty basic can handle them. in this lab demo one select-a-size sheet of bounty basic is 50% stronger than one full sheet of the leading bargain brand.
. taking you straight to washington, d.c. where they are about to unveil the statue of rosa parks. you can see president obama with his hands on the string right now and there we have it. >> ladies -- [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, the statue of rosa parks. >> certainly a monumental morning there, president barack obama, house speaker john boehner, nancy pelosi, harry reid, mitch mcconnell all there. all giving remarks this morning in this tribute to dedicate the statue of rosa parks, a civil rights hero we all remember after giving up her seat or not giving up her seat to a white passenger on a bus that started
the boycott of busing and introduced martin luther king to america. we move on now to chuck hagel who's given his speech now this morning as defense secretary. he was sworn in in a private ceremony about 45 minutes ago. he spoke to the service members and employees at the pentagon. hagel said he was honored to be the new defense secretary and that the pentagon does have a tough road ahead of it including dealing with sequestration. >> we need to deal with this reality. we've got ahead of us a lot of challenges. they are going to define much of who we are. not this institution only but our country. >> meantime, we do have major developments on the sequester issue today. the white house is saying that president obama will hold a meeting on friday with top congressional leaders on both sides including speaker boehner, nancy pelosi, harry reid, and mitch mcconnell. you would think maybe he could grab them on the side of the rosa parks statue right now and bring this up. they're all together.
so it's the first time in years, though, this year that the president has a face-to-face meeting with republican leaders where they will directly discuss sequestration. i say again he's right there. this is a good moment. they're all applauding. why not talk about it now? we bring in today's political power panel. what do you think? why not talk about it now? can we put the shot back up? you know, they're all together now. why not talk about it? >> there we have it. this is a good moment. they are all together, all the people being called on the carpet to get us out of this sequestration mess. mark madness is happening. sequestration. we're going through it and no one has the brackets. let me start with you. as we look at the people involved in the meeting we've got boehner, pelosi, reid, mcconnell. we know last week the president reached out via phone call to
speak with mitch mcconnell and john boehner as well. is this going to help for the fever to break? because march first it is coming. it doesn't seem like there is anything in the pipeline to get anything done. i mean, both sides say they have something but there really is nothing that they can come to a bipartisan agreement on. >> that's right. i don't think this is going to break the fever. the fever is not what these leaders all want to -- all want to deal. the fever is in the respective caucuses and conferences of the house republicans. the senate republicans. some said the house democrats. i just think it is extremely unlikely we'll see any kind of deal. we have to look more down the line toward whether this sequestration does in fact become the baseline to cuts in the sequestration. we see the next deadline, the end of march, when they'll have to pass a continuing resolution just to keep the government funded. well if sequestration becomes the baseline which house republicans are pushing for, then it would certainly seem to serve the interest of cutting spending but would seem to sort of fly in the fafs the interests of all of these leaders and
prevent types of cuts they say would be very damaging that will go into effect here in a couple days. >> all right. plans are starting to emerge to the surface with a little more detail. alice, we've got pat toomey, jim inhoff their new plan to avert the sequester $85 billion in cuts giving president obama more discretion on implementing those cuts. take a listen to pat toomey on "morning joe" today explaining. >> senator jim inhoff and i have a bill that simply says we're going to do the cuts but we'll let the president find the least disruptive ways, the most sensible ways to make these cuts. >> right. >> so we can go after the waste and duplication rather than laying off air traffic controllers. >> alice, here we have pat toomey out in front of us talking about, you know, what their plan would mean, where the president could intervene with implementing the cuts. however, mccain, lindsay graham, richard shelby, they are against this plan. so when we hear about any type of unified message from the right, we don't have one that's being presented to the left.
why not? >> well, that's a great question. i don't understand why they're not taking your advice and just having a little pep rally or a rally right there by the rosa parks statue and get this thing ironed out today. but the problem is as we heard yesterday the republicans have put forward two plans and as boehner said yesterday it is time for the senate democrats to get off their rear and reid says now it's time for republicans to get off their rears. we need to stop pointing the finger and sit down and have a conversation. it is discouraging that we're waiting until the last day on friday for the president to call these people together. but the truth of the matter is we need to look at serious spending cuts and not what the democrats want to do is just raise taxes on what they like to call wealthy. >> yeah. >> you know, i'm afraid we'll get to that point but as phil graham wrote in a piece this morning he went through sequester in '86 and the nation survived. and the democrats need to stop this the sky is falling routine because we'll get through this but what we need to look at is responsible spending cuts and
not just more taxes. >> penny, penny, the sky is falling. alice, just to your point of when asked why the white house is pushing this meeting until friday, a white house official says it is because the senate is voting on thursday on its plan to turn off the sequester so the wheels are already in motion. the official also believes the republicans will filibuster that bill. doug, as we look at the details though of the democratic sequestration plan, it would raise $55 billion in revenue, impose a 30% tax on millionaires and cuts 27.5 billion in defense and farm programs. so the democrats are -- they're willing to talk about the cuts here but the big point from them is the fact that we still have a revenue issue and we're not making enough of them in the country right now. >> it sounds like a balanced approach. that sounds like what the voters voted for in november. and to alice's point those two votes in the house, those occurred in the last congress. we have 80 new members. that last vote, the vote in december barely passed. republicans haven't actually presented a plan to vote on this
congress. and so i think what the democrats have put forward both in the house and the senate is a balanced approach. let's remember this has been litigated before the american people in election. the president won overwhelmingly. the american people want a balanced approach, a mix of cuts and a mix of new revenue. that is what the senate is offering. and i think that the house really needs to -- should probably follow their model. >> all right. so again, all those leaders, we don't have a shot of the rosa parks statue anymore. they were all together moments ago but they'll be meeting face to face on friday to talk about this directly. while i have all three of you here i have to get you on the record to find out what you think about cpac and the brouhaha around the fact that chris christie was not invited and al cardenas was the organizer from cpac and says it's like the all-star game for professional athletes. you get invited when you've had an outstanding year hopefully he'll have another all star year in the future at which time we'll be happy to extend an invitation.
this is a conservative conference not a republican party event. your take? on the fact he is not invited and those there are considered all stars of the republican party? >> they certainly have an all star lineup at cpac. it is their prerogative to invite who they want and the reasons for not inviting a chris christie clearly deal with his pushing for federal funding after hurricane sandy and some other requests for federal funding. currently he is the governor. and he needs to do what is in the best interests of his state. and while that might not have pleased the people at cpac, he is doing what he needed to do in the best interests of his state. and right now he's got over 70% approval rating in the state so he's not doing too bad. cpac will be great with or without chris christie. >> do you think it's a mistake though? >> no. there is a great lineup of people. we've got rick santorum there. we've got a great lineup, marco rubio, the whole laundry list. mitt romney will be there. so a great list of people will be speaking there and it's going to be a good event, good gathering of conservatives.
and a great opportunity for republicans and conservatives to get out there and push forward. the republican party is doing a lot with the growth and opportunity project looking at lessons learned from 2012. >> i looked at 41 speakers and there were only 12 women. do you think they need more women? >> like i said, it's their prerogative to invite who they want. there will be plenty of women in attendance and they're still inviting people. >> we just -- there will be plenty there we just don't need to hear from them? >> absolutely not. they're still inviting people. there is a good chance, thomas, they'll have more there. women are certainly a big part of cpac and i look forward to being there. >> all right. our power panel for today, thanks so much. i do appreciate you making time for me. just ahead senators john mccain and lindsay graham sounded optimistic after meeting with president obama on immigration reform. what it means for the prospects of a bipartisan deal. we'll speak with congressman luis gutierrez and alan grayson. plus the state of illinois is
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welcome back. vice president joe biden speaking live at the national association of attorneys general. let's listen in. >> charlie, going into hunters and fishermen saying, charlie, i'm not doing what the nra said. they said i'm taking your shotgun away. they never ran against me before the assault was banned. they said biden wants to take your shotgun. that kind of stuff doesn't work anymore. the public has been too sensitized. social media is too extensive. the organized opposition i was hoping as time marches on the urgency to act on gun safety would diminish. one of the leading opponents at a, i won't say where it was because i'm not positive, but at a large meeting recently, said
he expected, quote, an opponent that kin etic effect to fade. just had to wait until it faded away, the kinetic effect. george can tell you it'll never fade for the memories of the families who lost their children and loved ones in connecticut. it'll never fade from the memories of those folks in the region. it'll never fade from the member riff the people of connecticut. and i've noticed, look what the legislature did in colorado. what it's about to do in new mexico. it's a different time, guys. it's a different time. >> the vice president talked to the national association of attorneys general today. continuing his tough push for stricter gun laws in the country. all this is going on as the senate judiciary committee is holding a hearing on gun violence. and the newly reintroduced assault weapons ban. i want to play an exchange between the milwaukee police
chief edward flinn who was a proponent of the assault weapons ban and republican senator lindsay graham. take a listen. >> just for the record from my point of view, senator -- >> how many cases have you -- >> it doesn't matter. it's a paper thing. i want to stop 76 -- i want to finish the answer. >> no. >> i want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally. that's what a background check does. if you think we're going to do paperwork prosecutions, you're wrong. [ applause ] >> with me now mark hayes director of mayors against guns. you hear that sharp exchange and senator feinstein actually had to calm them all down. i want to play a little more of what senator graham went on to say about gun laws. >> i would argue that the law is fundamentally broken when almost no one gets prosecuted and if you can pass a background check having been adjudicated mentally insane by federal court, i think
the place we should start is fixing the laws we have rather than expanding them and creating a false sense of security. >> how do you respond to that? does that sentiment coupled with the white house's backing on gun control shape or shake confidence in you and your organization that congress is going to do anything? >> not at all. the argument he just made is a lot of people get stopped every year, more than 70,000 at the point of purchase when they try to buy a gun at a gun dealer and are a prohibited purchaser but many times they aren't prosecuting. maybe we should take a look at more people who commit a felony when they're not allowed to buy a gun but try. the other argument he is making is when you don't prosecute them they can go across the street and buy a gun from an unlicensed seller who doesn't give a background check. he's exactly right and that is why we need to expand it to
include the private sales. >> as we look at "usa today" the cover story focused on gun makers. i want to look at this chart. it is compiled by "usa today." under president clinton there was a spike with the passage of the assault weapons ban and today under president obama since announcing his plans for gun control. is it really possible for organizations like yours to get a hold on the manufacturing arm of what is going on in the country? >> you know, we're not antigun. many of our mayors and there are almost 900 of them, are actually gun owners and some are nra members. we think law abiding people should for the most part be able to do whatever they want and buy as many guns as they like for the purposes of hunting or self-defense. our point has been that you can do a lot while respecting the second amendment to keep guns out of the wrong hands. that means felons, domestic abusers and others barred from having them. we think we've had an experiment in this country with assault
rifles and high capacity magazines and it has not played out very well. and with rights come responsibilities. so it's time to get those off the streets. but in terms of what law abiding manufacturers, law abiding gun owners can do and buy, we're fine with people buying more guns. >> mark lays the director of mayors against illegal guns, great to have you on today. thanks for your time. >> thanks for having me. jumping back to our lead story concerning the voting rights act and the arguments before the supreme court and whether the key provision of the 1965 voting rights act has out lived its legitimacy. nbc justice correspondent pete williams was inside the supreme court and joins me now. explain the arguments that you heard. >> reporter: thomas, the court heard argument for about an hour and 15 minutes. i think it is a safe prediction to say the voting rights act as it now stands is not going to survive. the question is how far will the supreme court go in striking parts of it down? what seemed to concern the majority of the justices was the fact that the law is too
backward looking. when it was passed in 1965 it was intended to deal with a clearly documented pattern of racial discrimination in the south trying to prevent blacks from registering, voting, and being able to elect people. and the problem many of the justices say is that now the law when it was re-enacted the last time isn't forward looking enough. many of the justices said the problems in the south aren't as bad as they are in some places in the north and it troubled them that the law doesn't have any way to deal with that. i think two of the key justices that we looked at were justice kennedy and justice roberts who potentially might make a difference here but it seemed quite clear that justice roberts finds the law completely improper and justice kennedy is very bothered by it, too. he said at one point, you know, the marshall plan was a good thing at one time but times change. that is the question for the
court. times have changed. has the law changed enough. what is at issue here is the key part of voting rights act that says states with a history of discrimination have to get permission in advance from the federal government before they make any changes at all in how they conduct elections. big changes like redrawing congressional district boundaries, little changes like moving the location of a polling place or the hours that polls are open. in the covered states they can't make those changes until they get permission in advance. so that's the problem. is the formula, does it fit the problem? in are two possible changes here, thomas, if i can just take a slight bit more time to explain. >> sure. >> it is important. there are two things the supreme court could do. one they could strike down the clearance requirement entirely. the second thing they could do is strike down the coverage map. the formula used to decide which areas are covered by the law. it seems to me pretty clear that they -- the majority of the court doesn't like the coverage
map. the question is will they just strike that down? and if they do then the problem is right back in the lap of congress to see if congress can muster the political will to do what it did in 1965 and say, okay. here are the parts of the country that need to fix, clean up their act. here are the parts that don't. so as i say, i think the voting rights act is in big trouble. the question is how far will the supreme court go? >> and i'm just curious, pete. we reported back in january that clarence thomas who notoriously does not speak kind of broke his silence with a simple little joke. but did we hear from clarence thomas at all today? >> not unexpected, no. we think we know he is an opponent of the voting rights act and made it quite clear when the court last looked at this case four years ago. >> pete williams outside the supreme court there after the arguments this morning on the voting rights act. thanks so much for joining us so quickly. i appreciate it. back with much more right here on msnbc after this. this is $100,000.
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it's a miracle. a new procedure from switzerland allows once paralyzed lab rats to walk and run again. using robotic harnesses and electrical chemical stimulation the rats learn to move and within weeks were voluntarily moving. human trials were expected to begin in the next two years. >> a surprise move from the obama administration. immigration officials say they have released hundreds of noncriminal immigrants from detention centers from around the country to save money ahead of the sequester. it comes amid more movement in the immigration debate on capitol hill. what is being called a successful meeting between president obama and top republican senators john mccain and lindsay graham. joining me now is democratic congressman luis gutierrez of illinois and democratic congressman alan grayson of florida. they are teaming up for two immigration reform events taking place in florida on friday.
it's great to have you both here. congressman gutierrez, i want to start with you because arizona governor jan brewer had this to say about the administration's decision to release some undocumented immigrants saying, quote, i am appalled to learn the u.s. department of homeland security has begun to release hundreds of illegal aliens from custody. this is pure political posturing and the height of absurdity given the releases are granted before the federal sequestration cuts have even gone into effect. in reference to that specifically, sir, do you think releasing detainees ahead of the sequester is purely political? >> i think that the budget needs to be met and i just want to make absolutely clear to the american public that those that were released have committed no crime. these are people that are here working yucundocumented so plea don't believe they are murderers and rapists and people who committed serious crimes. these are immigration related issues. they've been released only to be brought back before judicial
proceedings that will take place later. >> all right. >> basically being left out on bail. >> gentlemen, let me ask you to stand by. the president is about to speak from the dedication of the statue of rosa parks. let's listen. >> leader mcconnell, leader pelosi, assistant leader clyburn, friends and family of rosa parks, to the distinguished guests who are gathered here today. this morning we celebrate a seamstress slight in stature but mighty in courage. she defied the odds and she defied injustice. she lived a life of activism but also a life of dignity and grace. and in a single moment with the simplest of gestures she helped change america and change the
world. rosa parks held no elected office. she possessed no fortune. she lived her life far from the formal seats of power. yet today she takes her rightful place among those who have shaped this nation's course. i thank all those persons, in particular, the members of the congressional black caucus, both past and present, for making this moment possible. a childhood friend once said about ms. parks, nobody ever bossed rosa around and got away with it. that's what an alabama driver learned on december 1st, 1955.
12 years earlier he had kicked mrs. parks off his bus simply because she entered through the front door when the back door was too crowded. he grabbed her sleeve and pushed her off the bus. made her mad enough she would recall that she avoided riding his bus for a while. when they met again that winter evening in 1955, rosa parks would not be pushed. the driver got up from his seat, insists she got hers, she would not be pushed. when he threatened to have her arrested she simply replied, you may do that and he did. a few days later, rosa parks
challenged her arrest. a little known pastor new to town and only 26 years old stood with her. a man named martin luther king jr. so did thousands of alabama, montgomery commuters. they began a boycott. teachers and laborers, clergy and domestics. through rain and cold and sweltering heat, day after day, week after week, month after month, walking miles if they had to. arranging car pools where they could. not thinking about the blisters on their feet, the weariness after a full day of work, walking for respect. walking for freedom. driven by a solemn determination to affirm their god given
dignity. 385 days after rosa parks refused to give up her seat the boycott ended. black men and women and children reboarded the buses of montgomery, newly desegregated, and sat in whatever seat happened to be opened. and when that victory, the entire edifice of segregation, like the ancient walls of jericho, began to slowly come tumbling down. it's been often remarked that rosa parks' activism didn't begin on that bus.
long before she made headlines she had stood up for freedom, stood up for equality, fighting for voting rights, rallying against discrimination in the criminal justice system, serving in the local chapter of the naacp. her quiet leadership would continue long after she became an icon of the civil rights movement. working with congressman conyers to find homes for the homeless, preparing disadvantaged youth for the path to success. striving each day to right some wrong, somewhere, in this world. yet our minds fasten on that single moment on the bus. miss parks alone in that seat clutching her purse and staring out a window.
waiting to be arrested. that moment tells us something about how change happens or doesn't happen. the choices we make or don't ma make. for now we see through a glass darkly. scripture says. it is true. whether out of inertia, simple lack of moral imagination, we so often spend our lives as if in a fog, accepting injustice, rationalizing inequity, tolerating the intolerable. like the bus driver, but also
like the passengers on the bus we see the way things are, children hungry in a land of plenty. entire neighborhoods ravages by violence. families hobbled by job loss or illness. we make excuses for an action. we say to ourselves, it's not my responsibility. there's nothing i can do. rosa parks tells us there's always something we can do. she tells us that we all have responsibilities to ourselves and to one another. she reminds us that this is how change happens. not mainly through the exploits
of the famous and the powerful, but through the countless acts of often anonymous courage and kindness and fellow feeling and responsibility that continuely, stubbornly expand our conception of justice. our conception of what is possible. rosa parks singular act of disobedience launched a movement, the tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of montgomery helped a nation see that to which it had once been blinded. it is because of these men and women that i stand here today. it is because of them that our children grow up in a land more
free and more fair. a land truer to its founding creed. that is why this statue belongs in this hall. to remind us, no matter how humble of lofty our positions, just what it is leadership requires. just what it is that citizenship requires. rosa parks would have turned 100 years old this month. we do well by placing a statue of her here. but, we can do no greater honor to her memory than to carry forward the power of her principle and a courage born of conviction. may god bless the memory of rosa parks and may god bless the
united states of america. >> you have been listening to president obama as they dedicate the statue today of rosa parks reminding us the civil rights icon would have turned 100 years old this month, during black history month. the president started off saying we celebrate a seamstress. there we have the statue there. the president pointing out she now has her rightful place with those who shaped this nation's course. a reminder to all of us, it was the busboy cot that she started with martin luther king jr., a young man in his 20s back then. that's going to wrap things up for me today. thanks for your time. i appreciate it. we are going to have live coverage tomorrow of the pope stepping down. joining me, we will have father
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